The two best prospects in the Astros system -- outfielders Drew Gilbert and Ryan Clifford -- were shipped to the Mets in the Aug. 1 trade that brought Justin Verlander back to Houston. That move caused some reshuffling atop the team’s Top 30 prospect rankings by MLB Pipeline.
Gilbert, a first-round pick last year, was Houston’s only player in the MLB Pipeline Top 100, and the Astros went over the slot in last year’s Draft to sign high schooler Clifford away from a Vanderbilt commitment in the 11th round. In fact, Gilbert and Clifford were given the top two signing bonuses by Houston in last year’s Draft.
The departure of Gilbert and catcher Korey Lee, the 2019 first-round pick who was dealt to the White Sox for reliever Kendall Graveman, means the Astros have traded their last four first-round picks. They joined J.B Bukauskas (2017) and Seth Beer in ('18) -- both of whom went to Arizona in the Zack Greinke deal in '19. The Astros didn’t have a first-round pick in ’20 or ’21 as punishment for the sign-stealing scandal.
Thus, outfielder Jacob Melton, a second-round pick last year out of Oregon State, takes over the top spot in the team’s midseason MLB Pipeline re-rankings, followed by outfielder Luis Baez at No. 2 and right-hander Spencer Arrighetti at No. 3. Shortstop Brice Matthews, taken with the No. 28 overall pick in this year’s Draft, is Houston’s fourth-ranked prospect.
The Astros don’t have a player in the re-ranked Top 100 prospects.
Here’s a look at the Astros’ top prospects:
No.1 Melton, OF
No. 2 Baez, OF
No. 3 Arrighetti, RHP
No. 4 Matthews, SS
No. 5 Zach Dezenzo, IF
Complete Top 30 list here.
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the preseason list:
Jump: Dezenzo, IF (Preseason: NR | Midseason: 5) -- Dezenzo, a 12th-round pick last year out of Ohio State, posted an impressive 1.102 OPS in 31 games at High-A Asheville to start the year before being promoted to Double-A Corpus Christi. Dezenzo is 23 years old, which makes it tricky to judge his results early in his career, but he hits the ball hard and has a solid approach. He was slashing .253/.341/.445 with six homers and 23 RBIs through 39 games at Double-A while playing first, second and third base.
Fall: Misael Tamarez, RHP (Preseason: 13 | Midseason: 30) -- Tamarez is having a rough year at Triple-A Sugar Land, going 0-7 with a 5.83 ERA through 19 games (12 starts). His biggest issue has been walks -- 42 in 66 1/3 innings -- which is partially the result of automated strike zones. Tamarez’s fastball is still performing well, but he hasn’t got into a rhythm with multiple good outings due to the walks and long innings.
New to the list
Here are the players added to the Top 30 from outside the organization:
Astros: Arrighetti, RHP (No. 3)
The Astros continually turn unheralded pitching prospects into quality big leaguers, and a 2021 sixth-round pick from Louisiana-Lafayette could be the next in line. Using a 92-97 mph fastball with late hop and a sweeping low-80s slider, Arrighetti has posted a 4.75 ERA, .228 opponent average and 115 strikeouts in 94 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A.
Best tools (Players are graded on a traditional 20-80 scouting scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average. Players in parentheses have the same grade.)
Hit: 55 -- Kenni Gomez (Valencia)
Power: 55 -- Baez (Zach Daniels, Dezenzo, Diaz, Matthews, Melton)
Run: 60 -- Melton (Zach Cole, Kenedy Corona, Daniels, Diaz, Gomez, Leon, Matthews)
Arm: 70 -- Pedro Leon (Cole)
Defense: 60 -- Cole
Fastball: 70 -- Miguel Ullola
Curveball: 50 -- Trey Dombroski (Arrighetti, Colton Gordon, Michael Knorr, Jaime Melendez, Alimber Santa, Tredwell, Ullola)
Slider: 60 -- Arrighetti (Tamarez)
Changeup: 60 -- Jose Fleury
Control: 55 -- Rhett Kouba (Dombroski, Gordon, Knorr, Tredwell)